Community Garden Grants

garden

Overview

Getting outside and gardening has known physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. Participating in a community garden can multiply these benefits. From a sustainability perspective, community gardens are great because they increase our community’s access to fresh and local produce, improving Clearwater’s carbon footprint by decreasing the travel distance food takes from farm to table. This close proximity also helps to encourage a more resilient food system. Community gardens go even further to enable additional social benefits, as they encourage neighbors to get to know one another and support a sense of place and pride within our community.

To support Clearwater’s existing community gardens and encourage new community gardens to develop, the city of Clearwater has created a Community Garden Grant Program. Non-profit and neighborhood groups are encouraged to apply for the upcoming fiscal year.

Grant Program Information

Program Mission

The mission of the Community Garden Grant program is to advance the city’s sustainability goals by supporting the creation or development of community gardens within city limits. Community gardens increase the accessibility of local produce, especially in a built-out community in which large commercial agricultural operations do not exist. Local produce improves Clearwater’s carbon footprint by decreasing the travel distance from farm to table and encourages a more resilient food system. Community gardens provided further social assets by having known physical, mental, and emotional health benefits while also encouraging a sense of place within our community.

Grant Assistance

On occasion, neighborhood and community organizations and social advocacy agencies will develop projects that align with the local food strategies laid out by Clearwater Greenprint. These projects would benefit from grant assistance. This document is to codify the process of reviewing funding requests.

Criteria for Funding

Clearwater Greenprint Criteria

Clearwater Greenprint provides support for urban agriculture, local food, and other community-led projects based on the following criteria:

  • Projects transform vacant and other underutilized properties from liabilities to assets that provide long-term economic, social, and environmental benefits to our community
  • Projects support and expand our community’s capacity to manage, develop, and enhance the city’s green space for natural habitat, recreation, gardening, and outdoor educational opportunities
  • Projects develop programs in collaboration with regional partners to increase the availability of local foods
  • Projects that emphasize walking and biking to the location and support the reduction of vehicle miles traveled within the community
  • Projects provide educational opportunities for the community to learn about sustainability
  • Projects develop youth programs that engage K-12 students in sustainability-related issues
Additional Criteria for Funding
  • Community Gardens are allowed only within the city's Residential, Commercial, Downtown, US 19, and Institutional districts. Properties that are not zoned as these districts will not be considered.
  • All projects must comply with the city of Clearwater's Community Development Code. To view code requirements, click here. To view required setbacks, click here.
  • Projects must demonstrate an active community interested in participating in a community garden;
  • Projects in areas that do not have an existing community garden take a higher priority than projects elsewhere;
  • Projects should not rely solely on the Community Garden Grant for support. Grant funding will only cover up to 80% of the project.
  • Applicants must work under the umbrella of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization or incorporate into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization;
  • If the applicant is not the property owner, written permission from the property owner must be provided with the grant application. A lease with said property owner must be established before funding will be awarded.

Funding Restrictions

Grant assistance must be expended in the city fiscal year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30) in which it was approved. Applicants receiving funding must register their social security or FEID number with the city for tax purposes. Unless soil testing has occurred and the soil is deemed safe to plant directly into, all projects should utilize raised beds to produce food for human consumption. Raised beds must be a minimum of 12 inches in depth and filled with purchased gardening soil.

Tiers of Community Garden Grant Assistance

Organizations applying for grant assistance will declare their project as fitting in one of three tiers:

Tier I: Grants up to $2,000

Tier I projects are smaller in scale or scope and are typically coordinated by neighborhood or community organizations. Requests for this tier of grant assistance will be paired with a city department that will provide oversight to ensure that the project follows best practices and is completed in compliance with city codes and ordinances. Examples of Tier I projects include: raised garden beds, soil testing, picnic tables, rain barrels, garden tools, seeds, soil, compost systems, biodigester system, cosmetic improvements, etc.

Tier II: Grants from $2,000 to $10,000

Tier II projects are average to larger in scale and scope and will involve a joint effort between a neighborhood or community organization and an environmental or social advocacy agency. Requests for this tier of grant assistance are presented by the sponsoring advocacy agency, who will provide oversight to ensure the project follows best practices. A city department will be paired with each Tier II project to ensure that all applicable permits are obtained, and the project complies with city codes and ordinances. Examples of Tier II projects include: a large number of raised garden beds, fencing, garden equipment, installation of a micro-irrigation system, the creation of a food forest project, a garden shed, bioswales, creation of a well, building a shade structure, etc.

Tier III: Grants over $10,000

Tier III projects are large in scale and scope and will involve a joint effort between multiple neighborhood or community organizations, environmental or social advocacy agencies, and city departments. Requests for this tier of grant assistance are presented as a partnership between a lead advocacy agency and city department. These projects should have a significant community presence and are typically the result of a focused dialogue in response to a community need. Tier III projects must have a specific goal or outcome that incorporates two or more of the goals and objectives of the Clearwater Greenprint Plan. Applicants must include a mechanism by which projects are evaluated to measure impact and success. Examples of Tier III projects include: a small solar energy system, a large shade structure for outdoor classes, etc.

Selection Process

The city’s sustainability coordinator will review the project for alignment with the mission, goals, and objectives of the Clearwater Greenprint Plan and how it will be of benefit to the community. Next, the sustainability coordinator will work with city departments to determine feasibility and any significant engineering or maintenance issues or other issues that that may arise.

Projects will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Project feasibility and the ability of the applicant to ensure that the project will be completed and maintained as envisioned;
  • Compatibility with the mission, goals, and objectives of the Clearwater Greenprint Plan
  • Maintenance and vandalism mitigation plan
  • Applicant’s demonstrated history of success with similar projects
  • Anticipated community impact

If approved, the sustainability coordinator will work with the applicant to provide the approved level of funding. If disapproved, the applicant may:

  • Resubmit an amended application
  • Partner with another organization or agency to resubmit an amended application
  • Withdraw their application funding request

Denial of funding does not prohibit the applicant from making future funding requests.

 

Steps to Apply for the Grant

If You're Seeking to Start a NEW Community Garden...

  1. Review the grant program description on the tab above title “Grant Program Information."
  2. Identify a location – select a property for the project. The proposed property must meet the following guidelines for approval:
    • The property must be located within the city of Clearwater boundaries. Unincorporated county properties are not applicable.
    • The proposed property must have either had its soil tested and is found to be free of heavy metals OR the proposed community garden must agree to only growing food in raised garden beds that are a minimum of 12 inches in depth.
  3. Seek permission for property usage. Make sure you have initial permission from the owner of the proposed location before applying, as a lease must be developed with the property owner in order to receive any awarded funding.
  4. Organize pre-application meeting - Contact the city of Clearwater’s Sustainability Coordinator at sheridan.gemuendt@myclearwater.com or (727) 562-4003 to coordinate a pre-application meeting to discuss the plan, application process, guidelines, timeline, initial design concept, and any other preliminary issues. Staff will determine if the proposed location is appropriate for a community garden and will notify the applicant.
  5. Work with a non-profit - Identify non-profit group to work with or how to incorporate as a non-profit
  6. Gather support - Because a new community garden creates a semi-permanent change in a neighborhood, gathering support from your neighbors is important, especially from the surrounding homes or businesses closest to the proposed location. It is also strongly recommended that you obtain a letter of support from your neighborhood association, if applicable. If you’re not sure whether your neighborhood has an association, use the city of Clearwater’s Neighborhood Association Map.
  7. Apply online.

If You're Seeking to Improve an EXISTING Community Garden...

  1. Review the grant program description on the tab above title “Grant Program Information.”
  2. Confirm the location – to receive funding, the community garden must exist within the city of Clearwater. Gardens in unincorporated Pinellas County or other cities are not applicable.
  3. Confirm soil quality - the garden’s soil should have been tested and confirmed free of heavy metals OR the community garden must confirm that it grows food for human consumption in raised garden beds that are a minimum of 12 inches in depth. Funding may be used to improve existing raised beds or test the soil – please note this use of funds in your application.
  4. Verify an existing lease - Confirm that the garden has a lease established with the current property owner. If not lease exists, applicants should create an agreement and prove documentation with their application.
  5. Work with a non-profit - Confirm that the garden has incorporated as a non-profit or works under the umbrella of a local non-profit.
  6. Organize pre-application meeting - Contact the city of Clearwater’s Sustainability Coordinator at sheridan.gemuendt@myclearwater.com or (727) 562-4003 to coordinate a pre-application meeting to discuss the plan, application process, guidelines, timeline, initial design concept, and any other preliminary issues. Staff will determine if the location is appropriate for the proposed improvements and will notify the applicant.
  7. Apply online.

 

Submit an online application for a community garden grant

Maintain Your Community Garden

  1. Maintenance of community garden and projects funded by the City of Clearwater’s Community Garden Grant are the responsibility of the applicant and associated non-profit organization.
  2. The city of Clearwater is not responsible for any cost of maintenance, repair, or removal of material purchased using grant funding.
  3. Approved applicants are encouraged to send photos of their finished projects to the city’s Sustainability Coordinator for recognition in future publications and media outlets.

Need Help?

Contact the city's sustainability coordinator, Sheridan Gemuendt, at sheridan.gemuendt@myclearwater.com or (727) 562-4003.